Collectively, I get the impression that smokers seem to feel they have an inalienable “right” to fling cigarette butts out of their car windows.
I cant count the times Ive seen someone open their car door at an intersection and dump a full ashtray on the road. While I saw this with regularity when I lived in Dallas, I havent yet seen this in Montana. Despite that, there are still lots of butts on the side of the road. Look along highway 2 and you’ll find more butts than you’d see on a Richard Simmons commercial.
Our troop adopted the piece of U.S. 2 that goes all the way through Columbia Falls. 3 times a year, we walk that 2 miles or so and pick up all the crap people felt they needed to toss out the window for the rest of us to admire. As a result, we know what people dump out the window for the rest of us to admire them for. Of course, smokers are certainly not alone.
We find lots of other crap besides cigarette butts and empty packs. Sometimes, stuff you dont EVEN want to find. Condoms. Yes, used (those get left behind unless someone has a trash pick up stick – you know, a stick with a nail in it). Prescription bottles. Old beer bottles with “something” still in them. Needles (rarely, but we do find em). Clothing. Socks seem to be a popular item for some reason. Building materials. Sometimes it’s stuff that blew out of the back of a pickup, but most often, it’s stuff that likely didn’t.
It hasn’t really struck me why people would throw this stuff out the window. I doubt they’d appreciate it if we dumped our bags in their yard after we finish walking the highway. I guess that’s different.
This morning, I was on the way back from hauling Jonny to school and for some misguided reason, I felt obligated to provide some “counseling” to a smoker who felt the need to flick her butt out of the car as she sat in front of me. Having just spent time picking up a fair # of bags of trash with the troop just 2 weeks ago, for one brief moment, offering some counsel seemed like the thing to do. As you might imagine, my comment fell on deaf ears, even though both car windows were open and there was no question that they heard me. I suppose I probably was infringing her rights as a smoker.
If it had been summertime, when forest fires are a serious concern, I suspect I would have been substantially less shy. However, we’ve gotten some good rain here lately and it’s not dry enough for fire as yet. Yet I still offered my advice to this person. This is unusual for me, as I’m not in the habit of trying to save souls. I figure if you want help, whether its personal or business, I’ll do everything I can for you. On the other hand, if you don’t want help, or think you don’t need help, I’m likely to let you have your way. There are plenty of folks out there who want help, so why waste time on people who are just going to be annoyed (or worse) by your attempts to help them?
Once in a while, the perfect storm happens. That combination of me forgetting forget this habit at about the same time that I’m observing stupid behavior that ticks me off. The inevitable result: I say something about it.
Must be getting old or something:)
So stop throwing your crap out of car windows. No one admires it. Not even the socks.